VIEW-2520 | C.P.R. cooking car, Montreal, QC, about 1890

C.P.R. cooking car, Montreal, QC, about 1890
Wm. Notman & Son
About 1890, 19th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Photograph (77678) , rail (370) , Transportation (2517)
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Keys to History

In some ways, Notman's pictures of daily tasks on the CPR trains are the most interesting of his photographs. You can see all sorts of details of food preparation for the guests in the luxurious dining cars. Note the rails designed to keep the huge cooking kettles from falling off the stove when the cars are in motion and the chimneys to take the coal fumes out of the car. The cook is sawing through a leg of beef with a hacksaw. The wooden boards used for a table don't look very sanitary; one hopes they were regularly disinfected with bleach, for this was an age when food poisoning was more common than it is now.

Source : Forging the National Dream [Web tour], by William R. Morrison, University of Northern British Columbia (see Links)

  • What

    This CPR cooking car is a kitchen on wheels.

  • Where

    The picture was taken in Montreal, but it could have been anywhere between there and Vancouver.

  • When

    The photo dates from around 1890, but this kind of car was used for decades by the CPR.

  • Who

    How much were these three men paid? As skilled workers, they might have made as much as $3 a day, a laughable wage now, but enough to support a family in 1890.